Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
CBC logo
Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 02.08.07
Quebec City


Tim's take on Canada's new Food Guide

I've been a big supporter of the Canada Food Guide almost as long as it's been around.

I don't follow it but I fully support someone, anyone, even the government showing us the path to responsible eating.

It's even more important in this day of fast food and eating on the run. Let's face it, when half the population thinks the four basic food groups are salt, fries, ketchup and Pepsi, we need guidance.

If you ask anyone under the age of twenty what their favourite vegetables are they're likely to reply potatoes, tomatoes, and onion rings.

Leafy green is iceberg lettuce and fibre is a Tim Horton's muffin.

Anyway, Canada has a new food guide for the first time in fifteen years. It's got all the basics and a few new twists to boot.

I'm still not going to follow it and I'll tell you why.

I don't want to weigh two hundred pounds. Nor do I want to have to eat twenty tiny servings of everything under the sun.

Those appear to be the two options. Let me explain.

I went to the "calorie calculator for males" on the Internet. I'm not kidding, you can Google it. Here's what I found. For a man my age, height and weight, who is moderately active, I can scarf down around 2500 calories a day and still maintain my svelte figure.

But there's a catch...

According to the latest Canada food guide I need to include seven servings of fruit and vegetables, seven servings of grain products, three of milk and alternatives, and three servings of meat and alternatives.

Spread over three meals a day that's seven servings a meal.

Now, I can probably manage seven fruits and vegetables but how on earth do you squeeze in seven grains?

Two pieces of toast and some porridge topped with flax seed for breakfast gives me four but that leaves three more servings.

I suppose I could have bread with supper but four pieces of whole grain bread a day is 480 calories. And that's before butter, Becel, or anything else.

And that still leaves me with thirteen servings of food to come.

Option Two has its problems as well.

I could stick with the recommended number of servings but also stick to the recommended size of the serving as well.

For example, the guide says you should have three servings of meat or alternatives a day.

In this case, a serving is two eggs, or two tablespoons of nuts, three quarters of a cup of beans or two and a half ounces of chicken.

Personally the only way I could eat two and a half ounces of chicken and be satisfied is if you wrapped it in a steak.

There's also one glaring omission in all this. For some perverse reason the dietary wonks at Health Canada - unlike those in France and the rest of the civilized world - don't consider wine as food.

Thus, search as I may, I can't find any reference as to how many servings of cabernet or chardonnay is required for healthy living.

I do know that for every glass of wine I take I've got to drop a serving of something else to maintain that delicate balance between my intake and my waistline.

Thank goodness tofu made the list of meat and alternatives.